TOYHEM! The all-time great discusses his role illustrating the vinyl classic…
Welcome to TOYHEM! For the holiday season, we’re bringing you a series of features and columns celebrating the toys of our youth, which often made for the best memories this time of year. You’ll be hearing from comics creators, regular 13th Dimension contributors and more. Click here to check out the complete index of stories — and have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Chanukah and Happy Holidays! — Dan
Earlier this month, we re-presented a column on the classic 1972 Spider-Man “Rockomic” From Beyond the Grave! to mark the death of character actor Rene Auberjonois, who gave voice to Spidey/Peter Parker on the LP record. (Click here.)
As it happens, we were already planning a TOYHEM! feature excerpting Jon B. Cooke’s interview with John Romita Sr. from the current Comic Cook Creator #21, in which the famed artist takes you behind the scenes of the groovy record album.
This is actually the second excerpt of the interview we’ve run. In November, we featured a piece about how acclaimed comic-strip creator Milton Caniff helped inspire the death of Gwen Stacy. (Click here.)
So dig this look at a record album that was a big part of Young Dan’s early fandom — and remains a big part of it today.
(Note: We begin with Cooke and Romita discussing Amazing Spider-Man #109. — Dan)
Jon B. Cooke: Was it your idea to bring in Doctor Strange?
John Romita: You know, I don’t know. I think that might have been the kind of thing Stan would bring in. I probably would not have thought of it. I think that’s why we worked so well together, because he had a knack. A lot of times I would ask to introduce a character, but most of the time when he had a secondary character in there it was to do a two-parter. He wanted to make them both separate so we could have a different character on the cover for each book. It was strictly market-driven. (Laughs.)
Cooke: For the Amazing Spider-Man Annual #2, Ditko teamed up Doctor Strange and Spider-Man for a very memorable issue, and to see that team return under you, as a very enthusiastic artist working on this… I guess I’m just making a statement… It was wonderful to see those two trademark characters put together, this time under the Romita stylings.
Romita: And I loved Doctor Strange. The only thing I hated, all of the costume details were time-consuming!
Cooke: It’s interesting that very soon after you did this pair of issues—the Spider-Man issues with Doctor Strange—this “rockomic” came out that you did the art for, for the album cover, and Doctor Strange was a part of it! It almost seemed like it was bouncing off of this issue of Amazing Spider-Man. Was that your memory of that?
Romita: You know, I’m trying to remember who wrote that. The guy who conned me into doing it, that album cover and the two-page thing where you follow the story with the pictures while you were listening to the recording. I think the guy’s name was Steve Lemberg. And he was a guy producing record albums. It may have been his plot. I’m not sure. There was no writer’s name on that I don’t believe. I believe he did write it… And the thing is, it was a great guide. (NOTE: Lemberg was credited. — Dan)
When he gave me the plot and the dialogue, I didn’t get the dialogue. There were only titles of individual titles on the end of the page. Yeah, it was a big help to me, because I didn’t have to frame it. He framed it and I put all the details in there. That was quite an experience. That’s the only thing I ever colored for myself.
Cooke: So that is your coloring! I was gonna ask that. That’s a nice job.
Romita: Yeah, I did the coloring on that myself and to this day I cringe every time I see my blue lines were never erased on the (front) cover. (Laughs.) I left the blue lines showing through.
Comic Book Creator #21 is out now. You can get it at your local comics shop or directly from publisher TwoMorrows. (Click here.)
— The Complete TOYHEM! Index of Features and Columns. Click here.
— How a Golden Age Comic Strip Helped Inspire the DEATH OF GWEN STACY. Click here.